CIOs versus Robots: 7 Ways Robotic Process Automation Impacts the Role of CIO
We must say from the very beginning that we do not actually need to include ‘versus’ when describing the relationship between CIOs and software robots. In fact, the idea of your business making progress with the help of RPA is more meaningful if you focus on exploiting the potential of a joint venture between robots and chief information officers.
But in order to get there you should first consider both how RPA impacts CIOs, and the reverse direction of influence. By so doing, you are more likely to substantiate the prospect of successful collaboration between CIOs and robots.
Nonetheless, the perception of opposition between IT teams and software robots used in business is justified. Alex Kozlov, Content Director and Technology Evangelist at Softtek, mentions that especially in the early days of robotic process automation, it was mostly the business crews who dealt with software implementation and maintenance, with only marginal consultancy of IT practitioners. But, as the song goes, “times are a-changin’ ”, and for very good reasons which we will touch upon.
For instance, Paul Singer (Director) and Siddhartha Sharad (Senior Associate) from Pace Harmon raise attention that extending automation at enterprise level, after the initial smaller-scale implementation in specific departments, requires assistance from the IT team.
That is to say, in order to take full advantage of the benefits of digitalization, the perspective should not be in terms of ‘either software robots via business units, or Business Process Management solutions (BPMs) via IT units’, rather in terms of collaboration for shared goals, in accordance with a wise division of labour.
At this point we expect some risen eyebrows: ‘What do you mean by a wise division of labour?’. The discussion below about how robotic process automation impacts CIOs should give some directions for what ‘wise’ can be inferred to mean in this context.
Let us assume that RPA and IT work together to promote successful development of your company. How can this be achieved? Well, let us see first how this collaborative enterprise affects the role of CIOs so that the assumption turns into a ‘happy end’ story.
1. CIO contribution is crucial for suitable RPA implementation
This is perhaps the most obvious and direct touch of RPA onto the function of CIOs. No one would deny that the IT team should have a word to say in the process of implementing robotic process automation. RPA technology requires installation on a server, and who else, if not the IT people, are best suited to handle this?
CIOs, with their top position in the IT department and corresponding technical skills, are thus essential contributors to flawless implementation. You should never forget that this increases tremendously the chances of obtaining (and maintaining) the desirable effects from automation.
2. CIOs as forward-looking agents
This is a corollary of (1) above. Involvement in the enlarged scale RPA development requires thinking ahead to build cross-department attuned strategies, and to anticipate potential issues before they negatively impact the progress. Therefore CIOs must endorse this dynamic, even revolutionary at times, role.
3. CIOs as promoters of change in the direction of teamwork
Chief information officers are the ones who can drive the constructive involvement of their IT staff in the business unit. This is to say that CIOs can actually be the agents of change of the combative relationship between the two units — IT and business.
According to Dennis Walsh, President of Redwood Software, this would be a “strategic change” from both perspectives. The change would be beneficial for RPA in the sense that it would provide an accurate long-term game plan, including potential expansions at enterprise level.